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The Power of Uncertainty

The result is known, the struggle is over – at least temporarily – for the UK has decided for Brexit. There are many arguments on both sides, but one argument I do think decisive that I never heard effectively rebutted by the Remain camp was the argument of the ‘democratic deficit’: that unelected people, unaccountable bureaucrats, were making decisions without any mandate from the people. The best the Remain camp seemed to be able to muster in response to this point was that – and they tended to say this with ferocious glee – what about the monarchy, what about the House of Lords, these were unelected too, right? This of course is making two wrongs a right: yes, there is much wrong with British democracy unarguably, but adding another layer of unaccountability to it is hardly the way to go. Indeed, it is admitting that the EU is undemocratic; and more strongly, I would say anti-democratic brexit millionaire reviews.

Brexit Deal: It Could Have Been Worse for the EU, France and Germany -  Bloomberg

No, perhaps the strongest argument of the Remain campaign and one I deeply respect is the argument of uncertainty: that leaving the EU would create uncertainty and that uncertainty is bad for markets, bad for business, and generally speaking be bad all round. Now on the face of it this is a strong argument for remaining, but how valid is it really?

We all like certainty: the certainty that our partner loves us, the certainty that the money we have in the bank is accessible by us at any time, the certainty that in making business plans (and I am in business) we can rely on certain ‘knowns’ that mean we can execute and realise our plan. Yes, certainty is very necessary for the effective and orderly functioning of human life; but too much certainty is, alas, bad for us. It was the Devil in the Medieval Mystery Play who said: “Security is mankind’s chieftest enemy’. What the Devil saw, and what we all can plainly see in everyday life, is that certainty, which breeds and leads to security, has several terrible drawbacks.

When we are certain and secure we have a tendency to become arrogant and indolent; we have bias towards enforcing the status quo, which means rejecting and denying innovation and change; when we are certain we develop a know-it-all sort of mentality that is impervious to improvements from whatever source they come; and certainty, and security, leads to a smug complacency, a sort of ‘I am all right, Jack’ kind of mindset. To an unbiased outsider I think this is exactly what we do see: it is quite clearly the better and more well off who have made the case and voted for the EU, (whilst often positioning themselves as champions of some great internationalist cause) but sadly I rarely hear any real appreciation from these people about the plight of the poorer elements of our society who clearly feel entirely disenfranchised by the EU circus. Finally, because at some deep level all humans know that certainty and security are impossible in this life despite our best attempts to build civilisations and Third Reichs that last a thousand years, there is a peculiar and highly strung tone to the voices of those demanding certainty; they know subconsciously certainty is really impossible but they are going to have it consciously anyway, and so they rush like lemmings all in the same direction, and often the same perilous direction. In the UK this seen in the fact that both major political parties support Remain even though in doing so it is making their own roles more and more redundant.

Thus it is that uncertainty, especially in a time of stagnation such as we have now, can be a very powerful stimulus for change and growth. Uncertainty can unleash creativity and vision, uncertainty can galvanise people and teams and organisations into whole new levels of performance and productivity, uncertainty can lead to a new openness, flexibility, curiosity, sense of wonder and enquiry that can be entirely absent where certainty reigns. So I welcome the new decision to leave the EU. Certainly, there is one certainty: it won’t be easy. And too, our security will feel threatened and diminished. But the ultimate benefits of working through this together are potentially enormous.

There is no certainty in life and this referendum has shown that decisively, but it has also shown the power of the people and what can happen in uncertain times. We know need strong leadership, devolved appropriately, so leaders can emerge at all levels within society, and we need to start moving forward together. The idea, as one film star tweeted, of ‘best of three [Referendums]?’ is nonsensical and profoundly undemocratic. The die is cast so now we work together to get a great result from this momentous decision.

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